Two men from Eastern Europe who were caught trying exchange £2.7 million worth of drugs through a suitcase have been for a total of 20 years.

32-year-old Aleksandar Uljaveric, from Serbia and Alexandru Mitu, 26, from Romania were sentenced to eight and 12 years in prison after pleading guilty at Kingston Crown Court on October 4.

The pair were arrested on June 12, 2018 when officers from the Organised Crime Partnership – a joint National Crime Agency and Metropolitan Police Unit, watched Mr Mitu attempt to deliver 22 kilograms (kg) of cocaine that was hidden in a suitcase and placed into the boot of to Mr Ujaveric’s car at Brackenbury Gardens in Hammersmith.

Surrey Comet:

22 Kilograms were found in a suitcase that was in the boot of Mr Uljaveric's car.

Matt McMillan, Operations Manager at the OCP said: “Taking nearly £3m of cocaine and £12,000 in cash from Mitu and Uljaveric has not only disrupted this organised crime group, it's damaged their reputation among other criminals.

“The trafficking of drugs is a major source of revenue for organised crime groups many of whom are involved in other criminal activities, such as human trafficking, money laundering, and illegal firearms.”

Officers also found a purpose-built concealment in the rear of Mr Mitu’s vehicle, which – after undergoing testing, also showed traces of cocaine.

Mr Uljaveric’s home was raided a further 12kg of cocaine was found along with 1,900 Ecstasy tablets, ¾ kilo of MDMA powder, a quantity of ketamine and £12,000 cash.

Mr McMillan continued: “People may see drugs as a victimless crime - the number of drugs seized, and people arrested does not by itself capture the harm caused to those affected.

“In reality huge levels of violence and exploitation are present at every stage of drug trafficking, from production in source countries to retail level on the streets of the UK.

“These men didn’t care about the damage they are causing in communities and the children and vulnerable people exploited by County Lines drug dealing.”

Surrey Comet:

Further drugs were seized when police raided Mr Uljaveric's home.

In interview Mitu said he was a taxi driver and Uljaveric was a passenger whom he had never met despite previously telling investigating officers that he was taking him to Luton airport.

Enquiries later revealed that Mitu was not a licensed taxi driver.